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VA Service Connection Benefits and Alcohol Use

Brett Valette, Ph.D. 
Clinical Psychologist 

There are hundreds of reasons why Veterans drink alcohol. 
Some drink alcohol with dinner.
Some drink alcohol to sleep. 
Some drink alcohol watching “The Game”. 
Some drink alcohol to relieve pain. 
Some sip alcohol from a martini glass. 
Some gulp alcohol from a plastic cup. 
Some drink a glass of Cabernet after work.
Some drink a bottle of Vodka to forget. 
Many veterans may have a service connected condition: An injury, chronic pain,

PTSD, depression, anxiety, insomnia, and drink alcohol to deal with it -- then the

alcohol problem may be service connected and rated.

This enables veterans to get treatment and benefits. 
The reason many doctors do not service connect alcohol abuse is because

many still believe that alcohol abuse, or use, is voluntary - a choice.

These docs may be missing the real reason. And the VA has guidelines about this. 
The VA makes it very clear that a non-service connected condition

(alcohol abuse) can be service connected if the condition is

made worse by a service connected condition (pain, PTSD, etc). 
Aggravation of a Nonservice-Connected Disability (Allen) 
Allen refers to a court case heard in the United States Court of Veterans Appeals in

1995. In this case, which spanned close to 30 years and several decisions, the

Court determined that service connection may be granted not only for

disabilities caused by a service-connected disability, but also for conditions

that merely had been aggravated by a service-connected disability. In other

words, there need not be a direct causal relationship between the service-connected

disability and the other condition. It is only necessary to identify that the claimed

condition was permanently worsened or “aggravated beyond natural

progression” by the service connected condition. 
The view of alcohol abuse has come a long way. It used to be viewed as a

moral issue. Then it moved into the disease category. Some people see it as

simply bad behavior. Some see it as a genetic predisposition, or even a

biological sensitivity to the alcohol. For this article and for the VA rating,

it is seen as a coping mechanism, a secondary condition, that is

harmful to you. Long term alcohol abuse can lead to cognitive and

memory impairments, increased depression, liver disease,

diabetes complications, and yes, these conditions would then be service connected. 
In short it looks like this: 
Service connected back injury = alcohol use to deal with the pain = liver disease.
The alcohol abuse and liver disease become service

connected and become part of your combined rating. 
Another example: 
Service connected PTSD = insomnia = alcohol abuse to sleep = mild memory problems.
It all becomes service connected and can be rated. 
Veterans should not be embarrassed or feel guilty about alcohol abuse.

It is important to get treatment. And it is important to be honest and get

the VA to recognize how a service connected condition is effecting their lives. 
If a veteran has a service connected disability and uses alcohol to deal with it,

then they can help themselves and their families.

Contact me.

I help veterans get the benefits they deserve

and that enables them to get the treatment they need. 

Brett Valette, Ph.D. 
Clinical Psychologist 


Were you improperly denied

entitlement to reimbursement of 
medical expenses incurred for emergency medical services?

You need to speak with a

veterans law attorney today!

Click Here To Talk With A

Veterans Law Attorney For Free.

Veterans Affairs Improperly Rejected Vets'

Emergency Medical Reimbursements



From: Murphy, Thomas, VBAVACO
Sent: Friday, July 22, 2016 12:18 PM
Subject: Follow Up on Senior Leadership Changes

VBA Team,

I want to update you on the personnel changes in our senior leadership ranks. As I previously mentioned, each assignment was considered thoughtfully and with the goal to further enhance benefits delivery to better support the Department’s MyVA goals.

Jamie Manker now serves as the Acting Principal Deputy Under Secretary, second in command at VBA. Prior to this position, he served as Chief Financial Officer where he led financial management professionals in maximizing VBA’s $3.1 billion budget and distributed $96 billion in direct benefits in FY15. While Jamie is an Air Force Veteran, VBA represents his life’s work…and he will invest his utmost in leading our 20,000 employees in delivering benefits and services to our Veterans and their families.
Mike Frueh now serves as VBA Chief of Staff. Prior to his appointment, Mike was Director of Loan Guaranty Service and was responsible for managing the nationwide $500 billion Veteran home loan program. Mike has 25 years of experience in planning, organizational management and leadership, not to mention he’s extremely personable – all skills I believe necessary to manage a large staff.

Rob Reynolds now serves as Deputy Under Secretary for Disability Assistance (20P). Rob was previously Director of Benefits Assistance Service and managed VBA’s Direct Services and Client Outreach. Prior to that, he served as the Executive Management Officer for 20P. Rob first joined VA in the Loan Guaranty Program after employment with the Department of Defense where he was the Congressional Liaison for Headquarters Marine Corps after serving in the US Army. His experience providing oversight of policy, planning and implementation make him a natural fit for this post.
Beth Murphy now serves as the VBA Director of Compensation Service. Beth is responsible for developing rulemaking and policy requirements, procedures, and training for administration of VBA’s compensation benefit programs. She is also responsible for assessing accuracy and providing oversight of administration of those programs. She joined VBA 22 years ago as a Rating Specialist and has held a variety of positions in the field and at headquarters. Beth previously served as VBA’s Deputy Under Secretary for Field Operations, and her breadth of knowledge of VBA operations will be an asset to Compensation Service in achieving mission requirements. Willie Clark will serve as Acting Deputy Under Secretary in OFO.

Cheryl Rawls now serves as Director of Pension and Fiduciary Service and will oversee policy, training and implementation of related programs. Cheryl most recently served as Director of the Winston-Salem Regional Office, but she began her VA career over 20 years ago as a work-study employee. Cheryl’s willingness to serve wherever needed is indicative of her commitment to VA’s Core Values and I am glad to have to have her back working in her hometown of Washington, DC.
Dave McLenachen is now Director of the Appeals Management Center (AMC) where he is responsible for the processing of appeals remanded to VBA by the Board of Veterans’ Appeals. Prior to his appointment, Dave was Deputy Under Secretary for Disability Assistance and had oversight of VBA’s Compensation, Pension and Fiduciary, Insurance, and Benefits Assistance business lines, and led the appeals modernization effort for VBA. As AMC Director, he will continue to support the Secretary’s MyVA Appeals Breakthrough Initiative and focus on VBA appeals policy and operations, with the goal of providing Veterans a modern appeal process.
Mark Bilosz now serves in the role of Director of the Winston-Salem Regional Office. Mark oversees the administration of benefits to Veterans and their families living in North Carolina. Mark previously served as Deputy Director of Operations for Compensation Service and began his VA career nearly 30 years ago as a file clerk at the Newington VAMC. Since he has risen through the ranks, bringing with him a wealth of knowledge, I am confident he will continue to serve North Carolina Veterans and their families with excellence.
Danny Devine is now Compensation Service’s Deputy Director of Policy & Procedures. Danny will oversee the development and implementation of policies, procedures, training and quality related to disability and death compensation programs. Danny previously served as Director in VHA’s Office of Disability and Medical Assessment where he managed C&P and disability programs, working closely with VBA. Danny joined VA in 2002 as Special Assistant in Congressional Affairs, and has had leadership roles in OCLA, Office of Public Affairs, as well as the offices of the Secretary and Deputy Secretary, and I am glad to have him here in VBA.
I look forward to working with each of these leaders to cement VA as the excellent, Veteran-centered organization our Veterans and their families deserve.

Thank you,
Thomas J. Murphy
Principal Deputy Under Secretary for Benefits

Performing the Duties of the Under Secretary for Benefits

Report Finds 'Deficiencies' Remain at Veterans' Hospitals

Health care operations at the Department of Veterans Affairs still show "profound

deficiencies" and "require urgent reform," according to a report to be released

Wednesday by a congressional commission charged with fixing the troubled agency.

Commission on Care

Final Report

VA panel's final report recommends

broader health-care choices for veterans

Commission says Veterans Health Administration has 'profound deficiencies'

that require urgent reform; proposes a 'bold transformation.'

Former veterans group president gets probation for theft
Freedom Foundation leader pleaded guilty to stealing gift cards

Postal carrier charged with theft, official misconduct

A postal carrier in Mishawaka was arrested after allegedly stealing

packages containing medications set to VA patients,

according to the probable cause affidavit.

VA Stocking Up on Guns, Riot Gear, Tactical Equipment

The Department of Veterans Affairs bought more than $11 million worth of

weapons, ammo and other security equipment between 2005 and

2014, according to a report released last month by a non-profit

organization that tracks spending across the federal government.

Two Years Later, the Phoenix VA Is Still a Mess

In Washington, the most common “solution” to a problem is to throw more

money at it, and that has been the case with the ongoing VA scandal.

Unfortunately, as a recent report from the Phoenix VA proves, this

strategy is bound to fail every time, because it does not

address the root causes of systemic problems.

Indifference, mistakes plagued vet's VA care

In an exam room at the Central Alabama Veterans Health Care Systems

hospital in late May, Willie McCall, a decorated Army

veteran who served in the Korean War, was dying.

Speak With A Veterans Law Attorney

Or An Expert Physician


Case Evaluations Are

Always Free!

Brett Valette, PhD

VA doubling back to resolve TBI claims denials

eterans Affairs officials aren't saying how 24,000 veterans were diagnosed with

traumatic brain injury by VA physicians considered unqualified to make

such a determination, but on Wednesday, told Congress the

department is working to resolve related disability claims problems.
Some veterans diagnosed with TBI from 2007 to 2015 were denied

disability benefits because they were examined by a VA

health provider considered to be unqualified under VA policy.

IED blast survivor's battle for TBI benefits

After a seven-year delay, a Minnesota veteran is finally getting

traumatic brain injury treatment and benefits from the Department

of Veterans Affairs. Former Army Staff Sergeant and Green Beret

Nate Anderson is one of the nearly 25,000 veterans nationwide

whose original traumatic injury exams were not done

by specialists, as required by VA policy.

Let Veterans Get Civilian Medical Care

I disagree with pretty much everything Donald Trump has ever said. But in

calling for veterans to have more options on their doctors and hospitals, he’s

got a point. Imagine, for example, the outrage if military veterans

were able to receive subsidized health care at the clinic or hospital of

their choosing, but were then forced into a separate system of run-down,

inconveniently located facilities. If the next administration rejects

proposals to reform the Veterans Health Administration and

instead perpetuates the current system, the effect will be the same.


VA Form 21-0966 - Intent To File A Claim

VA Form 21-526EZ -  File A Claim

Disability Service Connection

Secondary Service Connection-Increased

Disability Compensation-Temporary

Total Disability Rating -

 Individual Unemployability -

Compensation under 38 U.S.C. 1151 -

 Special Monthly Compensation -

Specially Adapted Housing/Special

Home Adaptation Automobile 

Allowance/Adaptive Equipment -

Benefits Based on a Veteran's

Seriously Disabled Child

VA Form 21-0958 - NOD

​Notice of Disagreement

The first step to appeal

VA Form 21-534 EZ

Application for DIC, Death Pension

Change of Address

TDIU Annual - VA Form 4140

VA form 21-686c

Declaration of Status of Dependents

DAVIS Relief Carvings

Custom carvings by a veteran.

I do military themes, sports logos,

business logos, Bible boxes,

occasional canes and much more.

These make great gifts!

(I ordered the Big Red One you see above

as a gift.  First class work and service!)

/s/ Jim Strickland

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About Your Claim?

The process of filing a claim for

VA disability benefits can be daunting

and confusing. If you have questions

Gisela Schmid is a veterans

advocate, an agent who is

accredited by the VA to represent veterans.

Ask Gisela about your claim,

how to file a claim or how to

get an increase in your existing benefit.

There is never a fee for talking with Gisela.

Contact Gisela by clicking here.

Or call

(202) 810-9756

Your VA Claim
If you haven't figured it out by now,
it's time to realize you're involved in a giant paper shuffle
and this IS NOT a spectator sport.
Put down your gun
and pick up your keyboard.
The battlefield has changed.


The Data Dump

Vital Links to

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Veterans Law Library

​A Comprehensive Collection

of  Materials Relating to the

Veterans Benefits

Adjudication Process

U.S. Medicine

A monthly publication that

serves healthcare professionals

working in the Department

of Veterans Affairs, Department of

Defense and U.S.

Public Health Service.

Veterans Benefits


Fact Sheets


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benefits you may be able to receive

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Every Benefit - Every Detail



Even More Benefits & Details

Bilateral Factor
CFR › Title 38 › Chapter I ›
Part 4 › Subpart A › Section 4.26

M21-1, Part IV, Subpart ii,
Chapter 2, Section F -
Compensation Based on
Individual Unemployability (IU)

M21-1, Part IV, Subpart ii,
Chapter 2, Section H -
Special Monthly Compensation (SMC)

M21-1, Part III, Subpart iv,
Chapter 8, Section D -
Reductions in Awards

M21-1, Part I, Chapter 5,
Section B - Notice of
Disagreement (NOD)

Military separation pay

impact on VA compensation

Under federal law, until veterans

pay back their involuntary separation

pay, they can have their

VA disability

compensation withheld.

Records show Alexandria, LA. VA Hospital doctor altered

medical records, then lied about it to investigative board

LouisianaVoice has obtained documents which reveal that a doctor at the Veterans

Administration Medical Center in Alexandria, LA. was denied a license in Florida

because she had previously falsified medical records while employed at a

hospital in Maryland.The records from Maryland were provided subsequent to

our story on Wednesday that examined numerous complaints about

Dr. Shivani Negi over her confrontations with

hospital staff members and families of patients.

#VAfail - Cincinnati VA report shows

contaminated operating rooms

Among other things, the facility’s acting chief of staff was prescribing controlled

substances without the appropriate license to her boss’ wife. She did this

while being paid for both her position as an administrator, as well as a

cardiothoracic surgeon, despite whistleblower complaints that she rarely,

if ever, performed in her role as a physician. There were reports of contaminated

surgical equipment, but new documents and testimony

show that the problems were worse than anyone knew.

Dangerous lead levels at Federal Government Center in north city

The lead dust was found in area where veterans’ files are stored.
Part of a statement from GSA reads: “Earlier this week, GSA learned through an

independent OSHA evaluation that elevated concentrations of lead dust exists on

top of file storage units and other horizontal surfaces within record storage

areas of the VA’s Record Management Center (Building 104). Existence of this

lead dust poses health concerns if the dust is disturbed. 29 employees

were sent home Wednesday. They have since been

reassigned to other work, according to the GSA."

VA Records Management Center

The VA Records Management Center (RMC) is a Veterans Benefits

Administration (VBA) facility located in St. Louis, MO.

Veterans Law Attorney

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Service-Connected Disability

​Federal Tort Claims

Title 38 U.S.C. 1151

​​Family Law for Veterans And Active Duty Servicemembers

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Veterans Affairs battle builds over plan to expand nurses’ roles

Six days before the window closes for public comments, a Veterans Affairs

proposal to expand nurses’ authority to treat veterans without a

doctor’s supervision has drawn 71,520 comments online.

Many doctors argue that the change is unwarranted and

potentially dangerous to veterans.

Leave YOUR Comment Here

Senators Want to Help Troops with PTSD Appeal Bad Discharges

A bipartisan group of senators on Tuesday sought to revive a proposal to make

it easier for veterans to upgrade "bad paper" discharges wrongly handed

down for behavior resulting from PTSD or sexual trauma.

Veterans Reject "Singularly Shameful" Donald Trump

It is a great American tradition, especially during presidential campaigns, for

political candidates to deploy military veterans and active service members as

evidence of both their robust patriotism and their qualifications to be

commander-in-chief. Donald Trump, of course, is neither a patriot nor

qualified to be commander-in-chief, and on Tuesday morning a group

of veterans gathered in the public square here to make that very point.

Former Army Psychiatrist On Veterans, Mental Health:

'Everybody Who Goes To War Is Changed'

Both shooters in the recent police killings in Baton Rouge and Dallas —

Micah Xavier Johnson and Gavin Long — spent time in the

military, and potentially suffered from mental health issues.

Man Who Promised Veterans Help Stole $500,000

A Stafford Springs man is accused of promising to help more than a dozen

veterans, then scamming them out of half a million dollars, according to state police.